The Office of Special Counsel has intervened on behalf of a civilian Navy safety manager who claims that he was removed for disclosing inadequate safety protections for employees.
At the OSC’s request, the MSPB granted a 45-day stay that keeps the manager in his position while OSC investigates the allegation.
OSC said that shortly after his arrival at a new position, the manager–with long experience in occupational safety and health–reported to his supervisor and others that he believed that protections against falls were inadequate. Soon after, an employee suffered a fall resulting in an injury; the manager reported it and recommended that fall protection be given higher priority, citing five other falls recently preceding that one.
However, the facility then removed him during his probationary period, asserting that he overstated the scope of the danger and overstepped his role. OSC, though, said that inspectors validated his concerns, documenting fall hazards in violation of federal regulations.
MSPB has power to delay personnel actions at OSC’s request when there are reasonable grounds to believe that a prohibited action–in this case, whistleblower retaliation–has been committed. However, a delay is not a conclusive finding.